“Most of all, I wanted so bad for my kids to have a dad and grow up in a family.” As a young adult, Jonia’s determination to create an ideal family for her children led her deeper and deeper into an abusive relationship. With the support of Live & Learn, Jonia eventually realized that a different life was possible. Once she realized that, there was no stopping her.

Jonia was raised by a single mother in Phoenix. She did well in high school and immediately enrolled at Phoenix College. At 19, she had her first child. The demands of caring for her baby and working to provide for him stopped her from continuing at college. Another pregnancy, another unsupportive father, and Jonia moved even further from her dream of returning to school.

“I was in this cycle where I’d be with a man, we’d have a baby, and it would be a bad relationship. But it would take me some time to see it because I wanted it to work.

When Jonia had her fourth child, she was determined to make it work with the father. Even as he started taking her money. Even after he caused a rift between her and her mother. Even when his emotional abuse stopped her from accepting a great job. Even when his financial abuse made her choose between him and her car payments. Even when physical abuse occurred in front of her children.

“I did everything right. I made sure he ate. I made sure his clothes were clean. I made sure our family was provided for. I wanted to be his wife… I did everything right.”

But it was getting harder for Jonia to keep moving forward. The violence was escalating. At this same time, Jonia had been trying again to return to Phoenix College. Sensing a student in distress, a professor referred her to Live & Learn.

“Things felt different then, like I had people who would help no matter what. Live & Learn helped me in moments when I couldn’t help myself.”

Live & Learn helped Jonia as she left her abuser. Through our program, she has accessed therapy essential to healing her trauma. This therapy will help Jonia recover, but it will also ensure that she is emotionally strong and prepared to care for her children.

Now safe, Jonia will continue as a Live & Learn client as she continues her studies at Phoenix College and beyond. Live & Learn’s support will ensure she finishes her studies, even while balancing motherhood and work. Her immediate goals are to pursue her education and repair her relationships with her mother.

One day, her goal is to become a children’s therapist, and to save enough money to buy her own home.